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the battle to regain contentment

Today I am taking a break from writing the saga installments of my relationship and pending nuptials with The Ex in order to concentrate on what I’m feeling today.  I’ll complete the story when I feel up to it.  Right now though, is not the day to do so.  It’s a rough day.  I mean it’s been a rough several months but, as with anything, some days are better than others.  This one, not so good.

This past weekend would have been the wedding.  If all had gone as planned, I would be a married woman, a blissfully happy newlywed, sitting on a beach somewhere doing nothing with my husband just enjoying our time together and excited about the start of our new life as husband and wife.

Sadly, that is not where I am.  In most ways, I’ve been living my normal life since the break-up.  Going about my days as they would happen typically.  I’m getting up, getting ready, feeding cats, heading off to work, putting in my 8 hours and then heading back home or to run errands or to my mother’s house.  This week when I would have been married, I’m doing just that, my normal routine.  A routine that has been relatively unchanged for the better half of a decade.

This past weekend though, instead of getting married, I spent some time at home cleaning.  Cleaning out any remnant of my relationship with The Ex that could be reminders of our time together.  It was cathartic to pack him and our wedding plans up into some boxes and ship them out.  On what would have been our wedding day, I sent every last memento out the door and into my mother’s home for me to sort through later when I’m in a better frame of mind.  I paid homage to the wedding gown I was supposed to be putting on that day when I dropped the stuff over at mom’s since she had graciously stored it since we had made that purchase nearly a year ago.

I returned home and got busy cleaning but I was also putting an amazing amount of energy into keeping myself together.  It worked.  Saturday, that day I had dreaded for months, came and went with no major breakdown.  I even had dinner with my mother in a public place and I believe I did as well as could be expected.

Then… it all went downhill.  On Sunday a couple of well-meaning friends “kidnapped” me from my mother’s home.  They had gone to my house first and when I wasn’t there, they found me at Mom’s.  I really had no choice but to get in their car and be at their mercy.  If I hadn’t, they would have picked me up and got me in the car whether I wanted to go or not.  I’m sure of it.  I had not returned their phone calls (as I’ve taken up a somewhat hermit lifestyle of late) and they were worried about me.  It is nice that they were worried and that they cared enough to check in with me so please don’t think I’m unappreciative in any way.  They were being good friends and wanted to help me, which is more than I can say for some.  My own brother didn’t even bother to call and check in the entire weekend or the week leading up to it.  But I digress… these friends were really trying to help me and I know everything they did was really from a good place in their heart.

But once they had me cornered in the car they started analyzing mine and The Ex’s relationship.  As they worked through this process, they provided some painful reminders of the good qualities The Ex had.  They pointed out the redeeming qualities he did possess at one time and gave me pause thinking back to our better times before things went south.  It was a place I had not gone much in the time since the break-up.  I was trying to live in the anger of the ended relationship, the failed marriage attempt, and I had not fully allowed myself to remember anything good.  That way I wouldn’t have to mourn the loss, I wouldn’t be sad (at least not as much), I wouldn’t have to completely deal with all the emotions stirring inside my heart.  But alas, it has caught up with me.  My friends may have been the impetus but they didn’t create the feelings I had in response to their analysis.  They were already there…

But to add insult to injury, to rub salt in the wound… after the capture and analysis portion of the evening, the family dinner portion followed.  We met their wives and children for dinner after this joy ride into my past.  I felt nauseous.  There I was, this dumped, single chick at a table filled with husbands, wives and children.  Two happy families.  Two sets of loving, nurturing, caring people who had figured it out and managed to make it work and build a family and a home.  At dinner, I must admit, I felt quite overwhelmed.  I was really just wanting to go home, to my quiet little world of solitude, to my furry friends that never make me feel bad about myself.  Because in that first moment, as the kids climbed out of the cars and I followed the families into the restaurant, that’s exactly how I felt, bad about myself.  And that feeling hasn’t vacated yet.

But I don’t feel the way that phrase typically describes.  I don’t have low self-esteem or a feeling that I don’t deserve love or anything.  It was just a feeling that I’m pretty much alone in this world.  And while my good friends were, in their own way, trying to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone… they had no idea that being with them made me feel more alone that I have felt in a long time.  Being surrounded by them, knowing they would all go home together and that I was only a small portion of their day, well, it’s just a tough thing to swallow.

While I’m grateful they love me and that they were willing to make me a part of  even a small portion of  their day, it still just aches.  This knowledge that I was so close to having what they have just has created this ache within me, it has slowly eaten a hole in my heart.  I’ve been fighting this feeling.  I’ve been ignoring it, and yet, in about four hours my friends broke down that barrier and I’ve not felt good ever since.

As I mentioned, some days are better than others and today is not a good day.  Since the break-up, I’ve been dealing with anger.  Anger at him for what he did, anger that my life changed so quickly, anger that I don’t understand completely what went wrong, anger that I didn’t adhere to the warning signs, the red flags, before it was too late…

I’ve also had moments of numbness.  Feeling numb is my favorite.  It allows me protection from my emotions and the ability to move through life seemingly unaffected by all that has happened.  It provides false comfort.  And quite frankly, at this point, I’ll take any kind of comfort I can get…  well, maybe not any… but numbness, I’ll definitely take.

Since the outing with my friends,  however, we can throw sadness into the mix.  Their talk of all things good about The Ex has set me back.  It’s made me actually miss him (which has not been a problem for me up until this point).  It’s made me feel the loss of him in my life like I hadn’t yet allowed myself to feel.  We did, at one time, have a great thing.  And he did, early on, have so many of the qualities I have always hoped to find in someone if I were to ever consider marriage and a future with someone.  He was the one that had promised to love me and be there for me always.  He was going to be the guy I went home with at the end of a dinner out with friends.  He was supposed to be the other half of a loving, nurturing, caring pair that managed to work it out and build a home and a family.

Sadness is not fun, I don’t like sadness.  Sadness makes me question all my actions in the relationship… was I too demanding?  did I expect too much?  did I give him enough credit for the things he could bring to the table? was I supportive in the way I should have been?  See, sadness makes me doubt myself.  Logically, I think I know all the answers to these questions and while I’m sure I made mistakes, I can probably say that I did everything one person could possibly do to make it work.  But sadness isn’t logical.  Love isn’t logical either.  These things aren’t something you can think through or reason away.  Sadness and love just are what they are… and that is a really troublesome quality for me.

I have never liked emotions, or really anything I couldn’t explain, understand, or analyze.  Anytime emotions have ever seeped into my life, I have just boxed them up into a neat and tidy package, and tucked them away on a shelf in my heart never to be touched again.  Much like I did on my was-to-be wedding day when I packed up and shipped out all of the memorabilia from my relationship with The Ex.  That’s how I’ve dealt with most things all my life.  Compartmentalizing, or boxing up, and tucking them away to gather dust in the dark recesses of my psyche.  This method has mostly worked pretty well.  Until now…

Before I met The Ex, I was a confident, independent single woman that dreamed of having property and horses, fantasized about her next career, and planned for the next exciting travel experience.  I had good friends, but didn’t necessarily have to be with them all the time.  I was mostly alone and I was content with that.  I was happy.  I felt that if the right person ever came along, great, that would just be the icing on top of an already pretty awesome life.  But, if the right person never showed, I still had the pretty awesome life.  Contentment and joy filled my heart and my life and were consistently abundant no matter my circumstances.

When The Ex entered the picture, life itself threw me a curveball.  I found myself enjoying the company (almost constant company) of a potential life partner for the first time in my life.  His affable nature, his appreciation of the small things, his ability to make me laugh… it just worked.  And it sent me down a path I had never travelled before.  A path where I would actually, truly consider spending my life with this one person.  Opening my heart in ways it had never been opened, allowing someone into my thoughts and life, trusting someone with my feelings and with my heart which was laid out for him to take if he wanted it… these were all very new concepts for me.  But I felt ready.  And I felt happy.

This opened me up, not only to him, but to the idea that marriage and family could be a part of my life and that I might actually welcome it and want it.  This was also a new concept.  The content, single chick opened pandora’s box of deeply stored needs and wants when The Ex showed up.  These were hidden desires that I had kept pressed down to ward off the possibility of getting hurt and being disappointed.  But I trusted him, I trusted the promises he made and the hopes that he was everything I had waited for.  And so I allowed myself to plan that life, to walk down that path with him, to open up to someone that would be my partner in every way.  I finally felt I had a person worthy of knowing and caring for my deepest held, most sacred thoughts, needs, feelings and desires.

Today, however, I’m back on the single chick path.  Those deep desires though have been exposed and right now, it is impossible to return to contentment and joy.  Once pandora’s box was opened, it revealed another side of me.  It brought to light many things that I never thought were important but when being completely honest with myself, they are.  I am a changed person now.  A person that, because of a new understanding within myself, is having extreme difficulty feeling joy and contentment in a life walked mostly alone.  This brings my biggest disappointment and my deepest sadness.  It makes me admit that I miss The Ex, that I envy my friends for the love and family they’ve found and created, that I’m not as happy and content alone as I once thought.

So I’m trying to pick up the shattered pieces of my heart and the scattered contents from all the fallen boxes I had stored neatly on a shelf in my heart once upon a time.  I am trying to fight for my previous life.  The one where contentment and joy filled my heart always, no matter what my circumstances.  I know God is with me and I’m never truly alone.  And I know that only with Him will I find the purest joy and happiness.  But even that is difficult right now.  I know His grace is all around me and I know He will never forget me or be late showing up when I need Him most.  And I know that I am tremendously blessed in so many wonderful and awe-inspiring ways.  And I realize that a broken heart and broken dreams are not the worst this life has to offer.  But in moments of sadness, where a lump forms in my throat, my eyes become red, and I find it a chore to breathe… sometimes it is hard to remember that He is with me always, even when my friends go home to their families…

 

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